Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar acceptance speech about fighting for diversity on screen was just the beginning.
Mexico-born director, del Toro, who calls Toronto home, tells Variety, “The first thing we’ve got to keep doing is to have visibility and help others have visibility.”
The filmmaker, who is the third Mexican in five years to take home the Academy Award for Best Director called for more diverse voices to come forward in his acceptance speech, “This is a door. Kick it open and come in.” It’s a sentiment he elaborates on in his Variety cover story by adding Latinos “can tackle any genre or task, and we should” as he hopes the new wave of inclusionary stories will lead a movement towards change.
The 53-year-old filmmaker whose fantasy-romance “The Shape Of Water” claimed four awards on Oscar night, including Best Picture, is well-aware of the responsibility and power he now wields as an Academy Award-winning director. Del Toro looks at the year’s box office hits and critical darlings and sees the audience desire for more representation on the big screen.
“The message that is really strong for studios, and one that they understand, is box office,” the director explains. “So with ‘Black Panther’, ‘Get Out’, ‘Wonder Woman’ — these are movies for female audiences, African-American audiences, and for many years that was a very difficult discussion to have with studios.”
He has had his own struggles with bringing projects to fruition with studios because it didn’t comply with studio beliefs of what audiences want.
“One project I had at a major studio, no longer than three years ago, was turned down because it was female-centric. I went to bat for it and literally could not move them one inch. It was myopic,” he recalls. Now, with “Black Panther” and “Wonder Woman” proving to be massively successful, del Toro says he hopes they’ll bring a sea of change.
“These successes show the studios that fortune favours the bold. People are interested in seeing themselves in a way they haven’t seen themselves,” he says. “Success is the moment we are colour-blind, when an actor is cast not because it was written specifically, but because he or she is right for the part and the actor has such power and visibility that they can command the lead in any project.”